This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. I am slowly blogging through Steele's Answers, posting each Q & A in the order in which they appear (whether I personally agree with the answer or not). But, these posts come from several other sources, as well. I often post particularly eloquent passages from Dr. Steele's other writings. Occasionally I post "guest blogs" from other holiness writers.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Salvation and Human Responsibility

QUESTION: Is it true that there is nothing in the hour and article of death to cause God to change the spiritual condition of the soul, either in part or whole?

ANSWER: It is not true of the irresponsible, infants and idiots, whom He saves unconditionally. Rom. 5:18, "By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." No man will ever be punished for the sin of Adam, which is legally covered  by the expiatory death of the second Adam. All responsible persons must have persevering faith in Christ to avail themselves of the justification of life, eternal life. "If children, then heirs." Adam's sin will keep no man, but himself, out of heaven, who I trust through faith in the promised "seed of the woman" has been saved.

Steele's Answers pp. 266, 267.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How Did God Speak to Israel?

QUESTION: Did God speak audibly and directly to Israel?

ANSWER: He had various ways of speaking: (1) through words vibrating in the air like the human voice, only much louder (Ex. 20:22; Deut. 4:33; 5:22-27; Neh. 9:13). (2) By the urim and thummin, as in Num. 27:21; I Sam. 28:6. (3) By the Holy Spirit in the heart convicting the sinner (John 16:8-11), and assuring the believer (Gal. 4:6). The prophets got their messages probably in this way. (4) By writing (Ez. 32:16; Dan. 5:5).

Steele's Answers p. 266.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is Suffering Necessary?

QUESTION: Do not such texts as Luke 24:26, 46; Rom. 8:17; Col. 1:24; II Tim. 2:12; 3:12, and Heb. 12:6 teach that suffering is a necessary part of earthly preparation of Christians to enter into glory? (2) How can this be harmonized with the truth that "God is love"?

ANSWER: The suffering is for Christ's sake, to promote his glory by confessing rather than denying him. The suffering is not inflicted by God, but by his enemies, the persecutors, to whom all believers were exposed in the apostolic age, of which period this is explicitly affirmed. In a less degree suffering from self-denial and sacrifice for the promotion of Christ's kingdom in all the world is a part of the discipline of all Christians. Yet we are not to consider our piety spurious because we are not persecuted. (2) The God of love allows this suffering in order to develop those moral qualities which will insure our eternal felicity. Many men, like Abraham Lincoln, have thanked God for the poverty into which they were born, the struggle against which developed those noble qualities which made them eminently successful. The loving father chastises the disobedient son, and lays heavy burdens on the obedient one to develop his strength. Will the heavenly father do less? See Rev. 3:19.

Steele's Answers pp. 265, 266.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our Daily Bread

QUESTION: Our pastor says that "daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer means bread for tomorrow. Is this so?

ANSWER: The original word occurs only in this prayer. Hence its meaning is doubtful. Some say "bread of our necessity," others say "for sustenance"; still others say "food for the morrow." Thus Christ does not allow us to go beyond the absolute necessity of the nearest future in our prayers for temporal things. This interpretation harmonizes finely with Matt. 6:34, which forbids anxiety for the morrow after having prayed for its supply. I think your pastor is correct.

Steele's Answers pp. 264, 265.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Atonement in Romans 5:11

QUESTION: What is the meaning of atonement in Rom. 5:11, "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement"?

ANSWER: This is the only place where atonement is found in the King James version of the N. T. In the Revision it is "reconciliation," so that atonement is not now a N.T. word. Reconciliation signifies the restored favor of God received through penitent faith in the expiatory death of Christ.

Steele's Answers p. 264.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Baptism of Suffering

QUESTION: What was the baptism Christ spoke of in Mark 10:38, "Ere ye able to be baptised with the baptism I am baptized with?"

ANSWER: Both the baptism and the cup indicate overwhelming suffering by Christ and his disciples in establishing the kingdom of Christ. They endured ten imperial persecutions, during the first 300 years and were hunted and killed as outlaws.

Steele's Answers p. 264.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Is God Responsible?

QUESTION: My grandson was recently drowned. Some say it was God's will; and the boy's time to die had come. Is this true?

ANSWER: This implies that God  has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. A mother near my house forbade her boy playing on a raft in the milldam. The boy disobeyed and was drowned. Did God decree his disobedience? It must be so, if foreordination is true. This makes God the author of sin.

Steele's Answers pp. 263, 264.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How to Recognize the Holy Spirit

Some may be inclined to ask another question, How do we recognize the Holy Spirit? How do we know that it is He and not some lying spirit who is speaking to us?

The how of all knowledge is mysterious. The philosophers are not agreed in the method of our knowledge of the external world. Some assert that we know only our own sensations and ideas, and therefore we are not sure that there is a material world external to our minds. These idealists are inclined to apply the same reasoning to Christian experience and to insist that it is all subjective in its origin, that there is no God in it, that all the changes supposed to be wrought by a divine person outside of us, regenerating, forgiving witnessing, sanctifying and indwelling, are from hidden causes in our own minds. This kind of reasoning would deny the existence of any human personality outside of ourselves, as well as any material existence. It would reduce all phenomena to our own consciousness and ourselves to a string of sensations. All these absurdities must follow the admission that all our religious experiences are only varying states of our own thoughts and feelings with no external cause. Such a conclusion we are not prepared to accept. When the morning light dispels the darkness, I know that the sun has arisen, and I do not need a candle to see him rise. So when amid the gloom of condemnation for my sins, while trusting in Jesus Christ, a light suddenly shoots into my mind and a voice within cries "Abba, Father," and the feeling of dread is suddenly, changed to filial love toward God, I know that a divine messenger is announcing forgiveness of my sins. This divine sunrise is self-evidencing. I need no rush-light of human philosophy or testimony to certify it. What has taken place is that my dead soul has been made alive. This life has quickened my dormant power of spiritual perception, so that I know by unerring intuition the presence of God the Holy Spirit. "To know the Spirit," says Murray, "is the divine foundation of 'certainty." Christian experience rests upon the same basis with mathematics and all philosophy — "self evident truth, the activity of the immanent God in the human soul." (Joseph Cook.)

But we are not left without some light upon the question how we know the Holy Comforter. John says, "Ye know him, for he shall be in you," or as the Revised Version, "He is in you," the future being by prolepsis spoken of as present, as Alford thinks. The abiding indwelling of the Spirit is assumed to be in the consciousness of the believer.

He who knows the Holy Spirit will always have the Spirit's fruit as a confirmation of His inmost indwelling. But the knowledge is not the result of the fruit, but its cause. He must know in order to have love, joy, peace, etc. He knows directly by intuition, and not inferentially. Hence he needs not to be told by some experienced Christian, "This is the Holy Ghost." He needs no such introduction. The Spirit of truth brings His own credentials with Him, which even the most illiterate can read. He may not be able to tell the distinctive marks by which the voice of the Spirit is distinguished from the suggestions of his own heart, but he instinctively feels them.

He recognizes the Spirit of God as a solid and eternal reality, while the world with its glitter of gold, and rank, its style, pomp and power, is a brilliant but vanishing vapor. Hence he is ready, if he must choose between grieving the Spirit and the loss of all earthly good, to go to a martyr's death at the stake or block with shouts of joy. If you think I am theorizing, read Ulhorn's "Conflict of Christianity with Paganism" and Fox's "Book of Martyrs."

He who knows the Spirit quickly recognizes the stranger who has the same knowledge, when all the rest of mankind fail to discern the invisible seal of God in his forehead.

He does not look at the denominational badge. He is free from any overweening partiality to some particular earmark when the name of Jesus is on the sheep, for the Spirit of God dwells in all real saints.

"Names and sects and parties fall;

Thou, O Christ, art all in all."

The explanation of this fact is that the Paraclete is the bond of union, the Spirit of life, connecting each believer with all others by uniting them with our risen Lord. We have in our modern times telephones, which so transmit speech as to bind up into a social union and possible daily converse millions of people separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. This is possible only by having all the wires meet at a common center. This center of Christian union and communion through the Holy Ghost is our glorified and adorable Lord Jesus. The agency of electricity in the social union of mankind is a faint reflection of the agency of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual union of Christians. The wonders of science on the plane of nature are of small account when compared with the wonders of the Spirit on the plane of the supernatural.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Ye Know Him"

The declaration of Christ is, "Ye know him, for he abideth with you, and shall be in you."

We see no form. We hear no sound. We feel the touch of no hand. The Spirit does not address any one of the five senses when He creates the soul anew. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned by minds quickened into spiritual life by the omnipotent Spirit, the giver of life. In regeneration the Spirit is inscrutable, His act of new creation is to the subject a fact, a something done in an unfathomable depth below his consciousness. This fact is recognized only by its effects. He knows that he is a new man, that he is fundamentally changed in all his tendencies, that he is released from his accusing conscience, that his past sins are forgiven and that he is no longer cowering beneath the wrath of God, but basking in the sunshine of His love. He no longer thinks of Him as a police judge sentencing him to a deserved punishment, but as a loving Father. The filial feeling has been suddenly and mysteriously inspired in his bosom, and he hears with his spiritual ear new words sounding in his heart, "Abba, Father." Almost involuntarily he utters them with his lips. He is conscious of a spiritual transformation. The personal agent he does not perceive. In fact the personality of your most intimate friend you have never directly seen. Personality is spiritual and is recognized only by its effects — words, smiles and other actions. You may therefore know the Holy Spirit's personality by His works in your own consciousness, as certainly as a son may know his father with whom he has daily intercourse. We say this to show that spiritual knowledge has the same certitude as our knowledge of men and things around us.

Delitzsch writes in  "Biblical Psychology," pages 418, 419:
It happens sometimes that the indwelling of Christ and God and His Spirit signalizes itself with such an energy in the believer that the human individual life is overflowed and swallowed up by the divine as a river of delight. . . . In other cases it is certified that the walk of the Christian is in heaven actually ( Phil. iii. 20, compare Zech. iii. 7 ), by the fact that the future glory is not merely revealed to his perception as a subject of hope ( I Cor. ii. 9, 10 ), but is given him for a moment to see and share in by way of foretaste.
This is a state of ecstasy, the highest experience of heavenly blessedness and of a knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The recipe for the attainment of this knowledge is found in Matt. v. 8, Luke x. 22.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Overcoming a Hazy Christian Experince

Andrew Murray writes:

It is because the presence of the Spirit as the indwelling teacher in every believer is so little known and recognized in the Church, and because, as the result of this, the workings of the Spirit are greatly limited, and, there is so much difficulty and doubt, so much fear and hesitation about the recognition of the virtues of the Spirit.
This spiritual incertitude, these hazy Christian experiences and weakening and distressing doubts in respect to fundamentals — the truth of Christ and personal salvation through Him — are the natural product of nebulous preaching on the subject of the offices of the Holy Spirit. This defective preaching comes from a negative experience of the fulness of the Spirit.

Conversions take the type of doctrines. The Wesleys, after a long and painful search, received the direct witness of the Spirit to the forgiveness of sins. They immediately began to preach this doctrine, strange to that era of spiritual death, though shining in the New Testament as clearly as the midday sun. People were converted by thousands, of whom John Wesley testified that ninety-nine out of every hundred could tell the exact time of their saving acceptance of Christ.

This is not the ratio of clear-cut conversions with a date among modern Methodists, because the offices of the Holy Spirit are not now so prominently and constantly held up before the people in the ministrations of the pulpit. What is the remedy? Let the pulpit be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Let preacher and layman who desire to know the promised Paraclete and to realize His indwelling, study the teaching of the Bible on this theme, especially the promises in the fourth Gospel. Gather these promises together and study them earnestly, and then turn to the Pentecostal fulfillment in the Acts, and to the full development and application of this doctrine by the apostolic writers, especially John and Paul. Approach these epistles athirst to find the artesian well of "waters springing up unto everlasting life," and to drink evermore therefrom. Study prayerfully and with faith all that the Spirit of inspiration has put on record respecting Himself and His indwelling and blessed work in your heart. Study in dependence on the Spirit, who alone can unlock the Word that He has inspired. Study with a will to follow whither the Spirit may lead, and with a complete self-surrender to God and that perfect self-effacement which Paul describes as a double crucifixion, "the world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. vi. 14). Consecration is indispensable to the successful study in this high theme. It clarifies the intellect, dispels prejudices and misconceptions, and unifies and strengthens all the faculties.

In this attitude of hearty consent to the leading of the Spirit, obedience to Christ and crucifixion of the flesh, the persevering believer will soon find the Spirit working in him, first as a search-light revealing impurities and mixed motives never discovered before. Then, if the will consents to their removal, the Spirit will entirely cleanse the temple of the heart and permanently fill it with His glorious presence. He will beautify His sanctuary with the entire galaxy of Christian virtues. He will strengthen its walls and make them impregnable to all assaults from without, and He will insure loyalty within by His constant indwelling "who yearneth for us even jealously" (James iv. 5, Revised Version, margin). We must remember that in both the natural and the spiritual world knowledge is preceded by faith. We must believe the Holy Ghost before we can know Him. Every altitude of higher knowledge must be the result of a stronger trust. Faith must be the habit of the soul that aspires after constant growth. Faith ever has to do with the invisible and the seemingly unreal. The Paraclete is unseen to the natural eye, and the inner eye of reason does not recognize His existence. Hence faith is the only door for the Spirit to enter and the only atmosphere in which He can dwell. There is no way of knowing the Holy Spirit but by possessing Him and being possessed by Him, just as there is no way of knowing life but by living. In fact the Holy Spirit is the life of the believing human spirit. The spiritual life is as real to consciousness as the natural life.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.